JobKeeper Rules and FAQ

April 19, 2020


The COVID-19 virus is upon us and wreaking havoc with the Australian economy. Accountants and tax agents are at the forefront of delivering the Government’s stimulus packages. On 8 April 2020, the Federal Government introduced into parliament the following bills:

  • Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payment and Benefits) Bill 2020
  • Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus (Measures No. 2) Bill 2020

In addition, there were two appropriation bills introduced.  All of these bills were passed by both houses of parliament on 8 April 2020 and received Royal Assent on 9 April 2020. In summary, the legislation:

  • Amends the Fair Work Act to support the practical operation of the JobKeeper scheme in Australian workplaces.  This includes the enabling of employers to issue “JobKeeper enabling directions”. The legislation also provides employers and employees flexibility around annual leave arrangements and days and times of work in addition to other measures.
  • Provides a framework in which the Treasurer may make rules (“The Rules”) concerning the implementation of the JobKeeper scheme.  These Rules are a legislative instrument.
  • Provides for eligible employers to pay eligible employees a JobKeeper payment of $1,500 per fortnight.
  • Provides for the administration of the JobKeeper scheme by the Commissioner of Taxation.

The purpose of the JobKeeper scheme is to support businesses in retaining staff by continuing to pay them, despite suffering a significant business downturn.  The Government considers that this scheme will assist businesses to regain momentum once the COVID-19 crisis has passed.


  • The Rules: Exposure Draft “Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Rules 2020”
  • The Payments and Benefits Act: Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Act 2020

JobKeeper Fortnight

The Government has chosen to administer the JobKeeper scheme using a fortnightly time period.  This is referred to as the “JobKeeper fortnight”. Under the rules, each of the following is a JobKeeper fortnight:

  • The fortnight beginning on Monday 30 March 2020;
  • Each subsequent fortnight, ending with the fortnight ending on 27 September 2020.

The scheme operates by having eligible employers paying eligible employees at least $1,500 per JobKeeper fortnight.  This does not mean that an employer needs to change its pay period if it does not pay its employees on a fortnightly basis or if the employer does pay its employees on a fortnightly basis on a fortnight that is different from the JobKeeper fortnight.  If an employer pays its employees over a longer period than a fortnight (say a month), the monthly payments are apportioned to the JobKeeper fortnights on a reasonable basis.

Despite the fact that the Payments and Benefits Act provides for a “prescribed period” between 1 March 2020 and 31 December 2020, the Rules only provide for JobKeeper payments up to the fortnight ending 27 September 2020.  Whether this period will be extended, remains to be seen.

Transitional Provisions

For the first two JobKeeper fortnights, there is a transitional provision with regard to entitlement.  Entitlement usually arises for those JobKeeper fortnights and later fortnights in which eligible employers are registered under the scheme prior to the end of a JobKeeper fortnight.  There is a transitional exception to this for the month of April 2020. In April 2020 employers may register by 26 April and if they meet the eligibility rules receive JobKeeper payments for eligible employees for JobKeeper fortnights in the two JobKeeper fortnights commencing from 30 March 2020.

The Decline in Turnover Test

To be eligible to apply for the JobKeeper payment, an entity (which can include a sole trader) must have a projected decline in turnover to at least the extent of the applicable percentage for that entity.

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